A few years ago, I asked a colleague for his email address.
“John Jones at hotmail dot com,” he said, as I wrote email@example.com. And then willed the ground to swallow me up as he corrected my spelling.
Sometimes the translation between what you see and read, or what you hear and write, goes a little awry.
What happens when you read
When you read you’re not looking at the individual letters in each word in order. Instead, you recognize words, or groups of words, as a whole. This is why it’s so easy to make mistakes, particularly if you’re very familiar with the text. Or, as happened to me, have another thought running through your mind.
For example, I’m very familiar with this text: I’m a freelance copywriter from the UK.
So if I saw I’m a freelance copywriter form the UK, I probably wouldn’t spot the error straight away.
I was talking to one of my clients earlier in the week about this. Jo is just completing her second degree, and so her second dissertation. When Jo submitted the dissertation for her first degree she was disappointed that her supervisor criticized her for not having it proofread.
Jo had checked her work. But after her supervisor’s comments she looked at it again and was surprised that she spotted several typos straight away.
To help Jo proofread her next dissertation, I gave her some tips on how I check all my copy. When you have 12,000 words to check this is no mean feat. But it’s worth doing if you want to be sure your final document is the very best it can be.
The best way to proofread
- If you can, ask someone else to proofread your work for you.
- If you are going to do it yourself, sleep on it for a night (at least, longer if you can). This will reduce your familiarity with the text so you’re more likely to pick up any mistakes.
- You’ll more easily spot errors if you print your copy and proofread it on paper, rather than on a screen.
- Always proofread your copy from right to left, bottom to top, from the end to the beginning.
- Hide the text above with a ruler or paper to stop your eyes looking for blocks of text to comprehend.
This is sound advice for any writing you do, including writing for the web. Mistakes in copy can turn people off instantly. And rightly so. Because if you’re not taking care with your copy, you may not be taking care with other aspects of your business either.
But perhaps the bottom line is this. You don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on marketing materials, only to find that you’re offering THE BSET DEAL IN TOWN!
To the printer, as you order your re-run.
Hello. I’m Sarah Russell, a freelance creative copywriter.
Thank you for reading my blog. I promise I proofread it. And I hope you found something in it to help or inspire you, or to make you smile.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call me on: 01873 776 153
Connect with me on: LinkedIn
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